Cornfield flowers are an iconic part of our farming landscapes - just think of those swathes of blood-red poppies under a summer sun.
More than 120 species of wildflowers grow in arable habitats and together make up one of the most threatened groups of plants in the UK. Flowers such as pheasant’s-eye were once picked from cornfields south of London and sold in Covent Garden as ‘Moroccan red’. Many of our most beloved plants - such as cornflower, corn marigold and corncockle - have drastically declined and no longer colour our farmland. However, they are an essential source of pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and other pollinators and their seeds can support huge populations of small mammals and farmland birds.
Different soils support different communities of cornfield flowers. On chalky soils you can find groundpine, Venus’s-looking-glass, prickly poppy and stinking chamomile; sandy soils support fingered speedwell, annual knawel and flixweed; clay soils are home to corn buttercup, shepherd’s-needle and spreading hedge-parsley thrive, while acidic soils in western Britain support small-flowered catchfly, broad-fruited cornsalad and corn spurrey.
What Plantlife is doing for cornfield wildflowers
Find out how Plantlife is working with farmers to conserve cornfield plants.
Important Arable Plant Areas
What are Important Arable Plant Areas and how are they chosen?
Managing arable habitats
Find management advice about sustaining arable plants & agri-environment schemes.
Surveying arable plants
Learn how to survey for arable plants
Agricultural intensification and specialisation have simplified the farmed landscape and made it the domain of a few species where once there was abundant diversity. But it doesn't have to be this way.